A multitude of people thronged the streets. The officers were on the way to court with one, a man accused of stealing bread. And in a little while the man was brought before the judge to answer to the charge. And Jesus and the twelve were there. The man showed in his face and hands the hard drawn lines of toil and want. A woman richly clad, the accuser of the man, stood forth and said, I caught this man myself: I know him well, for yesterday he came to beg for bread. And when I drove him from my door, he should have known that I would harbor not a man like him; and then today he came and took the bread. He is a thief and I demand that he be sent to jail. The servants also testified against the man; he was adjudged a thief, and officers were leading him away.
But Jesus standing forth exclaimed, You officers and judge, be not in haste to lead this man away. Is this a land of justice and of right? can you accuse and sentence men to punishment for any crime until they testify themselves? The Roman law will not permit such travesty on right, and I demand that you permit this man to speak. And then the judge recalled the man and said, If you have any tale to tell, say on. In tears the man stood forth and said, I have a wife and little ones and they are perishing for bread, and I have told my story oft, and begged for bread; but none would hear. This morning when I left our cheerless hut in search of work my children cried for bread, and I resolved to feed them or to die. I took the bread, and I appeal to God, Was it a crime? This woman snatched the loaf away and threw it to the dogs, and called the officers and I am here.
Good people, do with me whate’er you will, but save my wife and little ones from death. Then Jesus said, Who is the culprit in this case? I charge this woman as a felon in the sight of God. I charge this judge as criminal before the bar of human rights. I charge these servants and these officers as parties to the crime. I charge the people of Capernaum with cruelty and theft, because they heeded not the cries of poverty and want, and have withheld from helpless ones that which is theirs by every law of right; And I appeal unto these people here, and ask, Are not my charges based on righteousness and truth?
And every man said, Yes. The accused woman blushed for shame; the judge shrank back in fear; the officers threw off the shackles from the man and ran away. Then Jesus said, Give this man what he needs and let him go and feed his wife and little ones. The people gave abundantly; the man went on his way. And Jesus said, There is no standard law to judge of crime. The facts must all be stated e’er a judgment can be rendered in a case. You men with hearts; go forth and stand where stood this man and answer me, What would you do? The thief thinks every other man a thief and judges him accordingly. The man who judges harshly is the man whose heart is full of crime. The courtesan who keeps her wickedness concealed by what she calls respectability, has not a word of pity for the honest courtesan who claims to be just what she is. I tell you, men, if you would censure not till you are free from sin, the world would soon forget the meaning of the word, accused.